• Lawsuit: Someone could have locked Chicago woman inside freezer where she died

    By: Ann Smajstrla, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

    Updated:
    ROSEMONT, Ill. -

    A new lawsuit brought by the family of a deceased 19-year-old woman says hotel staff could have locked the woman inside the freezer where she died.

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    Tereasa Martin filed the lawsuit last week against the Crown Plaza Hotel in Rosemont, Illinois, and others in the death of her daughter, Kenneka Jenkins. Martin is asking for $50 million in compensation.

    The lawsuit claims hotel staff knew Jenkins was missing from the party she was at for at least an hour before she entered the hotel restaurant's freezer. It further claims Jenkins entered an area that was under construction and should have been closed off from guests. Attorney Geoffrey Fieger said in a press conference that a hotel employee could have inadvertently locked Jenkins in the freezer.

    "Through pure negligence, someone noticed that the doors in the kitchen were open. They locked them, they locked them like they should have been locked. They locked the freezer. And unfortunately, they locked Kenneka into the freezer," Fieger said.

    Jenkins disappeared in the early morning of Sept. 9, 2017, while attending a party with friends at the hotel, reported The Chicago Tribune. Friends and family went looking for her, but didn't find her body until about 21 hours later. Surveillance video released by police shows Jenkins, apparently intoxicated, stumbling in the hallways of the hotel's kitchen.

    An autopsy by the Cook County medical examiner's office concluded Jenkins died of hypothermia, with alcohol and a drug used to treat epilepsy and migraines “significant contributing factors.”

    The Crown Plaza Hotel released a statement saying, in part, that while Jenkins' death was a tragedy, the lawsuit "has no merit" and the hotel "will vigorously contest it," reported WLS-TV.

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